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EU Cities and Regions at COP27: Thursday, 17 November 2022  

​​Welcome to the fifth edition of the COP Chronicles, bringing you fresh news on COP27 from Sharm el-Sheikh

The twelfth day of COP27 marked another important step for the European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) delegation to Sharm el-Sheikh, where delegates participated to the first-ever Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change, convened by the COP27 Egyptian Presidency. Delegates continued to contribute to events organised by global and European partners, highlighting the importance of local and regional action in the encouraging climate commitments, enabling public-private cooperation, managing air quality, promoting a fair green skills agenda and leading by example on the road towards climate neutrality.

Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change. The CoR delegation participated to the first-ever Ministerial Meeting on Urbanization and Climate Change, convened by the COP27 Egyptian Presidency. The Ministerial meeting aimed at reinforcing the commitment to the Paris Agreement for multi-level climate action. The Egyptian Presidency launched the Sustainable Urban Resilience for the next Generation (SURGe) Initiative. The initiative revolves around the Global SURGe Alliance, which aims to provide an advisory function, convening biennially at the margins of the World Urban Forum and presenting annual progress at UNFCCC COPs. Speaking on behalf of the Local Governments and Municipal Authorities (LGMA) Constituency and acting as the ICLEI Special Envoy for COP27, Sharon DIJKSMA, Mayor of Utrecht, Netherlands, stressed the importance of local and regional actors in decarbonizing urban areas.

Bilateral meeting with Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Jakub CHEŁSTOWSKI (PL/ECR) met with Ana ASTI, Undersecretary of Water Resources and Sustainability of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Leonardo SOARES, President of the State Water and Sewage Company (CEDAE). The parties exchanged on the challenges, experiences and global synergies in effective water management, as well as the ongoing cooperation between Poland and Brazil.

Side event: Climate neutral and smart cities with and for citizens. Organised by the Covenant of Mayors – Europe, the session gathered local and national policy makers, international organisations and stakeholders, as well as financial institutions and NGOs to explore practical examples and investigate how ongoing EU flagship initiatives connect to the Covenant and among each other. Alison GILLILAND (IE/PES) drew attention to the connection between political commitments and action planning, stating that action plans create long-term commitments, flexible management structures and robust risk mitigation strategies.

Side event: Implementing Local Green Deals - implementing global ambitions at the local level. In 2021, the Intelligent Cities Challenge (ICC) and the CoR held a joint Mayors Summit on Local Green Deals, launching Local Green Deals - Blueprint for Action. The EU Pavilion event, organised by DG GROW in cooperation with ICLEI and the CoR, focused on the role of Local Green Deals in enabling transformative action through inclusive governance structures. As key note speaker, Ricardo RIO (PT/EPP), Mayor of Braga, Portugal, drew from the experiences in his city to underline how Local Green Deals can support collaborative, transformative processes: " Local Green Deals are an extremely good instrument in facilitating this kind of cooperation. They are a great way of pooling resources and know-how to create real and lasting impacts, and to move together towards a common goal. They are a great way of enabling locally-driven public-private partnerships that multiply the value of green investments for all of the engaged sides". Vincent CHAUVET (FR/Renew) highlighted that the global dimension should also support local levels on their path towards climate neutrality: "Two thirds of policies are implemented at the local and regional level. In Europe, direct budgeting comes from EU to cities, but in the future, it should also come from global funds to cities, especially in the global south. We want to be involved in the design of policies and not just the implementation".

Side event: Leading Actions toward Zero Carbon Cities. Under its Regional Decarbonization Roadmap, Japan aims to create 100 leading decarbonization areas by 2030 and roll out these practices to other regions through collaboration between national and local governments. The EU launched the mission to deliver 100 Climate Neutral and Smart Cities by 2030. This side event has focused on the similarities and the differences between the two initiatives with the aim of promoting the decarbonization of cities across the world. Alison GILLILAND (IE/PES) shared experiences from Dublin, Ireland, as one of the signatories of the EU mission charter: "Local authorities are also imperative in mobilizing funds for low- or zero-carbon projects. At the heart of the EU mission are the Climate City Contracts – multi-stakeholder partnerships that include an overall plan for climate neutrality across sectors like energy, buildings, waste management and transport, together with related investment plans. The purpose of these partnerships is for all the different actors – citizens, businesses and academia – to develop a stake in the green transition, and it is exactly the local authorities that are best place to facilitate these partnerships".

Side event: Clean Air as a human right: air quality actions for climate mitigation, adaptation, and human health. The event gathered experts and stakeholders to discuss the issue of air pollution, effective air quality management and the benefits that it can bring to the wellbeing of citizens. Marieke SCHOUTEN (NL/The Greens) stressed the importance of clean air when it comes to the health and wellbeing of citizens, welcoming the increased EU ambitions on air quality: "When it comes to health, the WHO guidelines represent better targets than the current EU standards. This is why I welcome new EU legislation published by the European Commission a couple of weeks ago where the standards are increased up to WHO guidelines".

Bilateral meeting with the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Jakub CHEŁSTOWSKI (PL/ECR) met with Marilia CARVALHO DE MELO, Secretary for Environment and Sustainable Development, to strengthen the cooperation between Silesia Region and the State of Minas Gerais, also touching on the BraSilesia project, carried out by the University and the Katowice Special Economic Zone, which facilitates collaboration between Polish and Brazilian companies and universities.

Side event: LGMA Global Townhall Towards COP28. The CoR delegation joined the rest of the LGMA Constituency to take stock of the progress on the negotiations and take a look at the main achievements and positions of the Constituency. The event served to round out the main activities under the Multi-Level Action Pavilion and to set a direction for the constituents on the road to COP28 in Dubai.

Side event: Capacity building on green skills to enable local, regional and international climate action. A green transition cannot happen without an effective labour market that can keep up with the demand for green skills. Vincent CHAUVET (FR/Renew) joined the event organised by Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) to discuss on the challenges when pushing for an ambitious green skills agenda, stressing the need to protect disadvantaged groups of citizens in the transition: "There is also a real risk that pushing a green skills agenda can have a more detrimental effect on minorities, women, children, adolescents, youth and people from disadvantaged communities. This is especially true for remote and sparsely populated territories, where the population faces greater barriers and difficulties in accessing quality training and education".

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